dUg Pinnick, Strum Sum Up

dUg Pinnick, Strum Sum Up

Local progressive rock icon Doug Pinnick is at it again, having completed a new solo project recorded at Blacksound Studios in Los Angeles, Strum Sum Up. The famed bassist and lead vocalist for King’s X has teamed up with fellow Houstonian Walter “Wally” Farkas, formerly of Galactic Cowboys, to put together a new collection of fresh original material amply representing the latest phase in Pinnick’s ongoing songwriting.

From the very onset of the first cut, “Perfect World,” the album feverishly unleashes the hard-driving sonic belts and sublime lyrical wit listeners have come to expect from the previously-aliased Poundhound artist. Most songs that follow are a relentless smorgasbord of prog-metal installments, some extended into reprised jams, with just the right admixtures of funk and groove to nail it all down with Pinnick’s unique signature.

As with most of his solo creations, the lyrical content brims with his philosophical and introspective observations. Unlike many songwriters, Pinnick unveils his inner self rather freely through his music. The result is largely a mosaic of emotionally-charged pieces of self-expression. In this vein, “Life Is What You Make It” and “Smile” are pretty straightforward numbers — melodious journeys into his life explorations and existential advice. Standout contrast songs “Dynomite,” “Hostile World,” and “Cross It” contain both paradoxical angst and fervent determinations — the superb and explosive “Dynomite” being the lightning rod track on the album, and “Cross It” serving as a Hendrix-riff-styled super finale.

By far the longest and most fun song of the set is “Coming Over,” a highly-funkifized, almost bohemian track that revels in the definitive nature of funk itself. The mid-jam section of this song features a highly-distorted, wah-wah-enhanced vocal that invokes imaginations of a screaming Little Richard being backed by Frank Zappa and the Mothers Of Invention.

After hearing Pinnick guest sing on an especially bluesy extra encore song at a recent Joe Bonamassa concert, keyboardist Rick Melick told Pinnick, “I can tell you’ve been to church before.” That he has. And Pinnick draws upon his gospel-soul-rock music background in the album to include some very jazzed-up vocal adlibs, everything from quickly glossing rollercoaster slides to the gravelliest of freakish screams.

Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of this newest release is getting to hear Pinnick temporarily divorced from his collaborations with King’s X. Alone, both his contributions and personal differences in musical direction are more readily apparent. Not only does he play one of the multi-layered six-string guitars on this recording, but he is beautifully set against background vocalists quite different from Tabor and Gaskill. While diehard King’s X fans will find favor with “Angel,” which has an arrangement more reminiscent of the group’s trademark sound, all others are thoroughly just dUg Pinnick, pure and simple.

Strum Sum Up is replete with cutting-edge effects and remarkable stereo recording mix imagery, revealing even more subtle intricacies upon multiple plays. It is sure to be a keeper for prog-rock CD collections, and there are several songs on it that will no doubt find their way into many a personal music playlist.

As Pinnick recently reflected, “I finally realize that people just want to dance and have a good time.” In perhaps a somewhat heavy-handed way, the new album definitely scores big on that count.

(Magna Carta -- PMB 1820, 208 East 51st St., New York NY. 10022-6500; http://www.magnacarta.net/; dUg Pinnick -- http://www.dugpinnick.com/)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Monday, February 18th, 2008. Filed under Reviews.

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